The Oscars — a Confession

Hi, everybody. Happy National Pig Day! (click here to learn more about this fascinating holiday) . Suze here on a fine and snowy Thursday in New England. Hope you’re all warm and comfy, wherever you are.

So — did you watch the Oscars last weekend? I’ll let you in on a little secret. I can never sit all the way through them. I always have to work the next day and, trust me, I’m not the friendliest puppy in the pet shop if I don’t get enough sleep.  So I just wait for the recaps the next day. Is that bad?

Let it happen, Cap’n!

I’m never all that interested in the winners, either. If Meryl Streep doesn’t win every year, she should, that’s a given. Who’s that French guy, the best actor? Didn’t see the The Artist, never heard of the actor. I read The Help  but still haven’t seen the movie. Christopher Plummer? Well, I’m happy for him, but I prefer to remember him as Captain von Trapp singing Edelweiss or dancing with Fraulein Maria in a moonlit garden.

What I really love are the gowns. Who was best dressed? Who was worst? I used to do quite a bit of sewing (before it got to be more expensive to make your own clothes than to buy them ready-made), and I still occasionally drag out the sewing machine if I want new curtains or throw pillows, so I know a bit about how gowns are constructed. Let me just tell you that there is a reason couture gowns are so expensive. There are hours and hours and hours of painstaking work that go into them.

I’m always amazed at how the designers make each gown unique. You’d think there would be only so many combinations out there: Start with your choice of strapless, spaghetti straps, cap sleeves, elbow-length sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, or long sleeves. Add a jewel neckline, sweetheart, or plunging vee.  Choose a peplum or no peplum (that’s the extra, longish ruffle that sits at the top of the hip — see Michelle Williams’s dress this year for that detail). Choose a fitted or full skirt, and skirt length (short, at the knee, tea length, or to the floor).

That’s pretty much it, right? Well, no. That’s only the framework. Leave out any of these items, and you don’t have a complete gown.  In fact, you’ve probably got a pretty serious wardrobe malfunction.  But once the basic choices are made, the artistry comes into play. The selection of a fabric or fabrics, the addition of embellishments such as beading or sequins, the way a gown is fitted to the individual wearer — it’s these details that make each creation unique.

Writing is a lot like that. All stories have a basic framework. But if you gave the same set of characters and circumstances to two different authors, each would come up with a completely different tale (now that I think of it, that might be fun!). That’s because each author brings her own beads and sequins and feathers to snazz up her own story.  How much fun is that? The sparklier, the better, I say.

Now, because I know you’re all just dying to know my opinions, here are a few of my Oscars fashion hits and misses. Click here to take another look.

1. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt — You’re both stunningly gorgeous, but what’s with Angie’s slutty pose?  Perhaps a few remedial lessons at a charm school would help. And Brad’s overgrown, shapeless hair borders on creepy – Get thee to a stylist immediately. Sorry, but thumbs down.

2.  Meryl Streep — Some people didn’t like the shiny bronze gown, and this made a lot of worst-dressed lists. Personally, I liked it, even though the top didn’t seem to be fitted properly.  Thumbs up.

3.  Octavia Spencer — I loved your simple gown, I loved your womanly curves, and I loved that you were so excited about your win. Thumbs up.

4.  Jennifer Lopez — You are also stunningly gorgeous, but why do you insist on such painful-looking, severe buns on the top of your beautiful head? And why do you so often choose gowns that look as though they weren’t quite finished? Or did a bodice-button pop off and roll under the limousine just before you were to go into the theater, with nary a safety pin to be found to hold the whole hot mess of a dress together? Whether or not there was nip-slip, or it really was just a shadow, this look was not daring or edgy. It was just distracting, like a twisted car wreck on the side of the road. Thumbs down.

5.  Gwyneth Paltrow — If her dress were gray, Gwyneth would look like an undernourished German prison matron. It’s both strange and severe. I might have liked it better if it had some color, or if Gwyneth had chosen a less awful hairdo. Although I dig the extra-large jeweled cuff bracelet, the overall look is a Thumbs Down.


Drum roll, please … my top pick …

6. Viola Davis— I absolutely adore this stunning green gown. I love the color, I love the style, I love the unusually funky earrings, and I love that Viola flaunted her hair in that cute, coppery style.  Way to rock your natural assets, Vi. Definitely thumbs up!

Your turn. What’s your favorite part of the Oscars? Which gown did you like best? Which did you hate?


20 thoughts on “The Oscars — a Confession”

  1. Susannah, what a great post. I enjoyed every word. In simple terms, and not trying to short cut my comments, I agree with your analysis. I fell in love, first sight, when I saw Viola Davis’s stunning green gown and the total simplicity of her look. Her smile completed the picture. Thanks for sorting through my favorite part of the Oscars and giving your most welcome comments.

  2. I didn’t watch it this year – so often, the movies that win are not movies that I liked. Last year was unusual in that I LOVED The King’s Speech. I loved everything about it – all of the actors in it were WONDERFUl. I saw The Artist back in January and while I did have a nasty cold at the time, I fell asleep several times during the showing. I’ve never fallen asleep during a movie before and believe me, I’ve seen some pretty boring movies in my day. AI, anyone? That train wreck went on forever…

    1. I shall make another confession here. I don’t think I saw ANY of the movies that won awards this year. It will have to be Netflix in the comfort of my own home!

  3. I don’t watch the whole show either (I DVR it then watch the later bits if I feel like it). I like to watch for the gowns and if the host is someone interesting, I’ll watch the beginning. I like Billy Crystal so I watched for him. I don’t know if its my age, or what, but I just don’t care about the Oscars anymore!

  4. I caught the last few hours, and was fairly unimpressed with the whole show–although the Cirque de Soleil was fabulous. Love Billy Crystal (just enough, not too over the top). His comment about the nominated films and their main character’s defects being available for voting at the primaries had me cracking up.

    I know very little about fashion, but I have a niece who is in fashion design school and is AMAZING! Her name is Francesca Overbeeke, so watch for her in coming Oscar years. She’s sure to be a rising star.

    As far as the dresses, I agree with your picks all the way. I have no particular proclivity toward women’s breasts, but I had a difficult time keeping my eyes on J-Lo’s face, which is so lovely, she should not be trying so hard to distract away from it.

    Charlize Theron would look good in a paper bag, and I love the classic style of Natalie Portman. I really liked Sandra Bullock’s black and white getup, but my fave had to be Viola Davis. Way to wear the green! Her mocha skin, coppery hair (as you put it), and that radiant and dazzling smile were captivating.

    1. Can’t wait to see some of Francesca’s designs! When they make one of your books into a movie, she can design your gown for the premiere.

  5. I thought Cameron Diaz made sexy elegance effortless while JLo seemed to be trying too hard. I have to admit, her dress was an engineering marvel.

    And that green dress on the red-haired actress from THE ARTIST looked a lot better when she was seated. The photos of it full-length look washed-out and awful. .

    I was eager to see plus-sized elegance, which Octavia Butler demonstrated but Melissa McCarthy’s dress disappointed.

    1. Yeah, engineering marvel all right! As I understand it, strategic parts of these bare-almost-everything gowns are stuck to the delicate boobal skin with double-sided tape. There really is no fabric construction technique that can keep everything contained 🙂

  6. I watched. I was not impressed with much this year. I think someone needs to give Angelina a donut. Her arms are skeletal, but she does get kudos for having the very best accessory – Brad. I liked Viola’s dress. Brava, Viola for having the courage to wear a gem tone. Octavia looked lovely. Gwen, lose the cape. JLo – the design of the dress made her hips look like an elephant, and it was boarderline trampy … sorry JLo. George Clooney’s date, Stacy Keibler – lovely dress. With most of the others, I would have liked the gown if it were a different color on them (Cameron), or if they didn’t have that mermaid bottom. All this is just my humble opinion. I agree with you, Suze, I would rather remember Christopher Plummer as the Captain. Happy he won. By the way, the french actor, Jean de Jardin is known in France as their version of Cary Grant. What the heck happened to Nick Nolte? My question is why do we have to have all the BS, why not just omit the fluff and get to the presentations. For me, the show was boring and overlong, and I’m a fan of the Ocsars.

    1. Angelina and Gwyneth both need a donut — maybe a whole box! I’m with you, Gerri, in that I like to see some color in a gown. Not crazy about white (unless it’s worn with colorful jewelry) or that blush/nude color so many stars like to wear. I don’t think those colors are very flattering on most women. And Brad — I want to love him, and I kind of like those nerdy glasses he often wears, but I really dislike that hair!

  7. Your comments were so funny, Susannah and I agree with most of them! Loved Viola in the green, her breasts were so lovely! I mean, come on, they were & positioned where I wish mine would hoist of their own accord!
    I’m a movie fan, so I cop to watching any of the movie awards but I just can’t get on board with paying $12 for a movie with no speaking. Wouldn’t be difficult to dig up an old Chaplin or Pickford movie, so I think The Artist was over-hyped and Gary Oldman was robbed. Didn’t see Hugo, though Scorsese was having a bang-up night and I’m happy for him. Waiting for the next cinematic gold that is he & Leo working together again.
    As for dresses, so many to choose from and let’s face it, most women were gorgeous. I love knowing who’s wearing what and while I’ll never squeeze into a designer sample size, it makes me chuckle, recalling that Joanne Woodward won an Academy Award in a dress she stitched at home in CT – and looked beautiful. Can you imagine Angelina or J Lo stitching their own gowns? Angelina, maybe, to prove a point. While she did look gaunt, vavavoom with that leg. Sorry Susannah, if I had it, I’d flaunt it too!!
    J Lo’s body was banging, as was Penelope’s, Cameron’s arms, Natalie in red,,.. Fortunately, awards season is over and we normal people can go back to our normal lives and hopefully some of the starlets will consume a closeted pizza once in awhile. Congrats to Octavia Spencer and those curves – she was so lovely and truly somebody most women can look up to!

    1. My issue with Angelina was more that she’s done so much to clean up her weird and kinda skanky image, I feel like she set herself back a few years with this!

  8. To me, Angelina looked like an anorexic vampire with hip dysplasia. Or like she was auditioning to be the new face of Captain Morgan. The only dress I really got swoony over was Penelope’s. And I was glad Meryl won, and I just loved how she thanked her husband. So romantic!

    1. Ha! I’m doing some serious snorting here. Dead on about the “vamp”ire comment, as always. I also adored Penelope’s gown — I hadn’t seen it before I wrote this post, or I definitely would have included it in my top picks.

    1. Someday, perhaps, I shall reveal the reason that my sister and I celebrate National Pig Day every year …

  9. I loved Gwenyth’s gown. I thought it was classic and chic and she won’t look like an idiot 20 years from now. Viola was my favorite though and as for JLO she wouldn’t be JLO if she didn’t show up in a gown like that.

    1. Yes, people either really loved or really hated Gwyneth’s outfit. I agree with you that the gown itself was classic and beautiful. I actually would have been fine with the cape if the shoulders weren’t so overly constructed that they looked like they should have gold, fringey stuff dangling from them. She would have looked right at home with a bandolier across her chest and a dress sword at her side! Did you see JLo’s after party gown? Gorgeous color, but even more outrageous! Yup, that’s apparently possible 🙂

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